The place between comfortable chatter and quiet holiness is a doorway without hinges for acceptance. I walked through it at a blogging conference.

Carrying inspired words from platforms at the Allume Conference, I traded the beauty of the masses for a prayer room of candlelight, hushed voices, and women silently dancing like marionettes around 453 journals, writing words of encouragement. And suddenly, I was captivated by the possibilities hovering over deep brokenness seated around the room.

Sinking into a high back armchair like a child seated at an adult feast, her tiny frame bends over her knees in an arc, hair hangs down like shiny black curtains framing her face. I notice the repetitive movement of her frail hand cupped with wads of tissue toward her face, sopping up surrender. Glancing up intermittently from her central place in the room, she offers a tilted smile of kindness to sympathetic sojourners brushing past her knees. And I see myself in her countenance.

Drifting in a boat of solitude longer than seems adequate, I recognize the expression of isolation on a stranger’s face now like the jawline of my kin.  Instead of looking past the uncomfortable pool of sadness, I’m drawn to it, like a lamb startled by the voice of her shepherd and running to him.

I feel the pain of isolation’s process, like shadowing a terminal illness and living to tell about it. Recharged by what death’s bony clutch intended to suffocate, I am a purveyor of hope’s breath.

Bending over, I touch her knee gently and whisper, “Would you like for me to pray with you.”

Her watery eyes look straight up, into mine and she whispers in response, “Yes, I would, that would be nice,” while pressing the ball of tissue under her nose. We collect our notes, books and purses and move to an out-of-the-way place in the room, huddle together and talk.

As we hold hands, she pours out the ache of lonely struggle and I have a revelation.  I realize that while rocking in my empty boat on the uncertain waters of this season of life, my obsession with weather reports was misplaced. I was attempting to harness outcomes before they took place, all the while, God was pushing the oars through deep water, moving us closer to shorelines crowded with brokenness.

I couldn’t see above the water line of my circumstance because I was supposed to trust where He was leading instead of trying to figure it out.

I’m concerned about lightning strikes to my steel boat, asking Him why I am trapped by undesirable and unwanted situations, and I was missing the point. He was preparing me to deliver a hopeful message. The pain of isolation is the schoolroom for empathy to do her work.

Life, it’s not about what you think. It’s not about the perfect outfit, your beautiful business card or how many people “like” you. It’s not about platforms, microphones, your bank account or marketing campaigns. No, that’s all a distraction, isn’t it? Because life, your life, it’s about relationship with Jesus. It all goes back to how much he loves you, for you, not for what you do.

Your story of survival while alone in a tiny boat glugging with difficult circumstance is the life raft for those who are perishing without hope.

Don’t you want to know the secret to finding your true self, your purpose, and calling? This is it: Give yourself away with abandon and don’t waste a minute. (Matthew 16:25)

I don’t want to set up kingdoms for myself, I want to deliver His kingdom through the doorway without hinges, to those longing for purpose and meaning, those who struggle to find it. That’s what I learned at the Allume Conference. {And we thought it was about blogging, didn’t we?}